After a cleansing meditation today (that’s woo-woo speak for “I bawled the whole time“), I was reminded about why I wrote my new book, Field Guide to Plugged-In Parenting, Even If You Were Raised by Wolves… forgiveness. I was bawling, because I was cleansing myself of the regret of not forgiving my mother sooner.
I wrote this book, so that other wolf-babies can learn from my mistakes.
Wolf babies are people who were raised by wolves, or by parents who lacked the capacity to nurture (probably because they, too, were raised by wolves, without the awareness that they could choose to parent differently). Sometimes the wolf baby cycle goes back for generations.
I’m here to teach that forgiveness is a dish best served piping hot.
It’s time to release the story of how your parents failed you. Forgive them now, and begin to write your own parenting story, built on love. That way your kids will only tell that new story, thereby breaking the wolf baby cycle for good.
At least that’s what happened with me. I made a conscious decision to raise my kids differently than I was raised, by doing the exact opposite of what my mom would do in any given situation. I developed a parenting plan based upon all the things I wanted as a kid and refined by watching the Cosby Show, Supernanny, and reading endless tomes on child development. That was all well and good, but I still hadn’t forgiven my mother; so, I avoided her as much as I could, given that she lived next door.
Sure, I helped her in little ways every day, but I never really connected with her. I never allowed myself to appreciate her strength, her sassiness, and her sheer zest for living. My mom did everything from flying planes to driving race-cars in a time when women did not do those things. She was a larger than life character who loved connecting with people, and she had a gift of making everyone she met feel special. But I couldn’t appreciate her gifts from my place of righteous indignation with her lack of parenting skills.
Then she was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and I knew I had a narrow window to let the years of resentment and anger go… and I did.
We had a really wonderful six weeks, and I thanked her for all the ways she taught me to seize the day and to follow my mission to make the world a better place. I made it clear to her that I was lucky to have her as a role model, and that I loved her. I forgave her, but I couldn’t get back the years of forced distance… and I couldn’t undo the past.
I didn’t realize that I needed to also forgive myself; at least not until I went to South Africa.
Before breast cancer, I didn’t do things like go on retreats in South Africa, because I was too focused on being important, making money and buying more things to demonstrate how important I was. Then cancer shook my world, and I began to prioritize differently. I started putting family first; I got certified as a life coach; and I resurrected a dream of helping teens find their own power. I ignored the problems with my mom, because I had a new mission. Then she died, and I went to Africa as an homage to her, as she LOVED to travel… the more exotic the better. I went to the Londolozi Game Preserve for what I thought was just a cool trip; I didn’t expect it to change my life… but Africa does that.
One night at a group dinner, I started thinking about my mom and how much I had shut her out because she didn’t nurture and protect me, and I started to cry. I didn’t stop crying for two hours. I sat at a table with 16 other people and cried behind my dinner napkin for all the missed opportunities to connect with my mom… because I was so mad at her.
I had forgiven her in the weeks before she died, showing her by coordinating pills and hospice workers, joking with her, and just sitting with her while she slept; but I hadn’t forgiven myself for waiting so long. In the land of majestic, and often brutal, truth, I couldn’t avoid my actions any longer. The vaudevillian dancer that was my ego couldn’t soft shoe her way past the fact that I had blown it; there was no amount of dancing that could fix that. So, now I meditate, and I cry, and I forgive myself.
Forgiveness was not the only lesson I learned in Africa. I also learned the power of the pride.
I watched how the lionesses worked together to hunt and feed their cubs; as I watched them I had a Eureka! moment of how human female relationships would benefit from a similar focus.
I re-branded my business around Africa and the lioness power; I call it Girl Power for Good.
I will teach girls how using their own inner lioness power, and finding a pride to support them, will allow them to achieve their own dreams. I will teach them how connection is so much more joyful than competition.
My first Field Guide is for parents, because kids need parental support as a platform from which to spring out into the world. With this book, I will carry on my mom’s lessons of connection for a higher purpose. With forgiveness, I can move forward to writing my own story and using my own girl power for good.